Pest Control in Nashua NH (Podcast)
By Chris Williams on November 23, 2020.
Zack Ciras, quality manager of Colonial Pest Control, discusses pest control in Nashua, New Hampshire, including the types of pests in the area and the services they offer.
John Maher: Hey, I’m John Maher, and I’m here today with Zack Ciras, quality manager with Colonial Pest Control. Today our topic is pest control in Nashua, New Hampshire. Welcome, Zack.
Zack Ciras: My pleasure, John.
Pests in Nashua, New Hampshire
John: So, Zack, are there any sort of general things about working pests in Nashua, New Hampshire that you’ve noticed?
Zack: Nashua is great. There’s a lot of up-and-coming sections of downtown. There’s a lot of old farmhouses. We see a variety of things in Nashua. It’s a good-sized city. It is closer to Massachusetts. It’s in the southern part of the State of New Hampshire. You don’t have the drop-off of things like termites because of the colder weather. It doesn’t quite hit that mark yet. So we have a lot of the same insects, same rodents that we see in Massachusetts.
It’s not right up on the coast, so you don’t have to deal with as many of the coastal issues as you do Portsmouth, Rye, areas like that. There’s a good kind of rounding. You have your aunts, of course. You have your mice. Rats in Nashua have been going up the last four or five years now.
With the shutdown, a lot of restaurants aren’t throwing out the regular food that they do. And you have a lot of the rats who used to eat at those restaurants too, even though they’d go in the back and eat from the dumpster. And there are a lot of rats that are moving out of the city and kind of going to the burbs in search of food. So you do see some changes in Nashua.
But you see a lot of the typical problems that you’d have with a mature town or mature colony and the maturing of the houses. So you have some of the older homes that are starting to show their age, gain some more character you could say, and just kind of develop the things that inevitably happen to every house, especially in a mature city.
Pest Control in Nashua
John: Right. So maybe talk a little bit about some of the specific examples of some pest control services that you’ve done in Nashua.
Zack: Sure, sure. Well, on the rats, there was one house that had an old chicken coop in the back and then a dilapidated barn butting that property. They had a lot of rats getting into the house, an old, granite foundation with fieldstone underneath. And the rats actually didn’t spend much time downstairs. They were actually going through it from the kitchen, which was attached to an addition, which, of course, leaves some openings, all the way up to the attic. And they spent most of the time in the attic.
And these weren’t roof rats. They were Norway rats, sewer rats, brown rats, the typical rats that you usually see lower. They found their way to the attic, and they were happy there.
Another job I could think of not rodent-related, but more insect-related, were termites. It was a colonial-style house, nice house, probably built in the ’60s, I’d say. And they had a fully finished basement. On one half, the husband had his great wood shop. I was a little jealous of his vacuum system. He could chop and cut anything, saw anything, and have no issues with the dust.
Zack: It all just got sucked up, and it was beautiful. And the other side was kind of a … He had his lounge chair and a big TV and all of the sports memorabilia, all that great sports stuff on that side of the basement.
John: Yeah, why would you ever leave?
Zack: And that wall that divided it … Exactly. Well, I’ll tell you why he would leave. That dividing wall that was in between, I think that the wall was built maybe even before the slab was poured in the basement. A lot of people think that the foundation of a house is the floor and the walls, but really it’s the walls who sit on footers. And then the slab is only maybe four inches or so, poured on top of the soil after the walls are built. The walls go down even further.
Zack: So that leaves a lot of gaps and cracks around the outside of that, where the slab meets with the walls, the expansion joint. And in this case, I think it was not a great decision, but the builders, it looks like, maybe they poured a thin slab and then the wall. But regardless, this wall had the two-by-four frame, the footer, basically right on top of the soil under the house.
So they did, over the years, have some water issues. Some of it flooded in behind the front door, and just normal stuff that you have in a basement in New England. And one day in springtime, warm day after it rained, and that’s usually when we see the termites swarmers, just started pouring out of that footer in the basement.
By the time we got there, we realized that they had gone from the back of the house, down the two-by-four, along the back wall of the foundation, almost entirely to the front of the house. They had really done some damage. But because termites are cryptobiotic, they work behind the scenes, kind of in secret.
They did a lot of damage before anybody could see anything. Of course, when you have a mature colony, that’s when you swarm. The kids grow up, and by the time they grow up, they’re ready to go fall in love and start their own family. They’ve been around for a while.
So the same with the termites, the swarmers, their job is to go fly away, fall in love, start a new colony. And it had been there for at least four or five years, I would say, based on the damage.
John: Wow, and what kind of damage did they do to the house or the foundation or the walls?
Zack: Less of a structural issue, thankfully. The termites found that wet wood in that wall, which was not a load bearing wall. They have the center beams that were elevated, and those were actually in really good shape, a couple of tubes on them, but they didn’t have the same moisture content as the lower ones that were sitting either on the soil or had been saturated a couple of times with water issue coming in.
So the termites did a lot of cosmetic damage when they ended up to keep the two sides, the woodworking side, and then the gaming side separated. They did have to rebuild that wall, which is more than the termite treatment that I did. But the termites, they did a number on, especially the framing, of that wall. The side of the wall that was on the more relaxing, watching-the-football game side of the house, they had the drywall.
The paper on both sides of the drywall has cellulose in it. Termites like cellulose. They don’t really much care if it’s in a cardboard box, a sheet of paper, on drywall, or in lumber, or a fallen down tree. So they had been working in the wet lumber, the two-by-four, which was not pressure treated either, which makes it a little bit more susceptible to termite damage. And they had chewed a lot of the paper off the drywall, but the real issue was that footer. And then the studs going up had gone up a little bit each stud and done some damage there.
It was painted, so you couldn’t see it until they popped through. But once we started to investigate, it was almost paper-thin layers of wood that they had left. They eat the springwood first, which is a faster growing and, thus, less dense wood. So they kind of skip over the summerwood or the slower growing, more dense wood. They eat the easy stuff first. So you’re often left with these little paper-thin layers of termite damage. And then that thick coat of paint on the top hid them until they decided that they needed to swarm.
Termite Control in Nashua, NH
John: So what’s the process of doing termite control? What did you have to do in order to get rid of them and prevent them from coming back?
Zack: We use the Sentricon Termite Elimination Bait System around the outside perimeter of the house. And that’s built as a standalone system. It’s a very safe and very effective system. Dow AgroScience owns that system. They developed that in the ’90s. The active ingredient of the bait, and the bait goes in containers that go about one foot down below the surface of the soil. When the termites are looking for food, they find this delicious bait. And then they feed on that, eliminating the whole colony, in a very safe, termite-specific type of way.
But that bait system was one of the first, if not the first, on the EPA list of safer pesticides, which they started to develop in the mid-90s. Now they’ve advanced even beyond that. And every bait is a high-density cellulose stick, with a newer version of that Noviflumuron bait mixed in.
But the outer perimeter of the house and the soil wasn’t where the swarmers were coming from. So we had to kind of think beyond our typical installation. The bait system around the outside, I didn’t think was going to get to all of the termites that were popping up through that wood.
They were pretty comfortable, pretty established, in that wood in the middle of the basement. So we used an additional product, as well as the bait system, when we did get some other colonies from around the house with the bait system. We used a product, a liquid product, into their channels, into their galleries, where they were working inside that wood. We used a product called Phantom. Chlorfenapyr is the active ingredient for Phantom.
It’s not a pyrethroid. Most of the typical sprays you have these days are pyrethroids. If you use a lot of the same thing over and over again, you do chance some exposure, some toxicity, but also a resistance to be built up with the insects. They’ll actually develop a resistance to the material so that the whole class of material doesn’t work as well as it used to.
So chlorfenapyr it’s a lot safer for mammals and non-targets. It actually attacks the metabolism, which is very cool, especially for termites. All they’re doing is metabolizing. They’re metabolizing the cellulose out of the wood with microbials in their belly. And that’s the energy that they need to keep on going and keep expanding and swarms to start new colonies and do more damage.
So the chlorfenapyr directly injected where they were working, it stopped them from being able to metabolize the cellulose in the food that they were getting from. So they didn’t have any energy for their nervous system, for their metabolism, for moving, for expanding. So it actually worked pretty quickly. Within a couple of weeks, we had a lot of dead termites there, in addition to the bait system outside, eliminating the main colonies around the outside of the house. It was a one-two punch, and I was happy to have that tool on my tool belt for them.
Pests and House Additions
John: Okay. Previously, you mentioned additions on houses as being sort of a vulnerable point. Can you talk about that a little bit and why is it that additions are such an issue? Obviously, it’s not built as part of the house, so it’s added on. That’s what an addition means.
So are there issues with the way that those are constructed, where maybe they’re not … the foundations, if there’s a foundation at all, it’s not joined up with the original foundation very tightly. What are some of the other issues that you find with additions?
Zack: Right. Additions are like additional thoughts. You have your one vision, your idea, and you go, “Oh wait, what if we did this too?” It usually doesn’t tack on perfectly. A lot of additions will cause pest issues, termites for sure. A lot of times when you have an addition to a house, it’s an elevated … maybe finish the porch off the back to make it a three or four-season room. Then you have all that area underneath just kind of boarded off.
You can’t even see what’s going on, but the wood posts may hit the ground, or there’s some organic debris build-up there. The termites will find that and work their way in. If you have a slab, slabs are notorious for getting penetrations from termites from underneath any little crack. And a termite only needs about a 16th of an inch-
Zack: … to get in. So the smallest crack in a slab, even if just the expansion joint or where you have the screw or the nail go in for the footer of the frame-
John: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Zack: … that could be an entry point for termites to get inside of the house then. Full basements, where you have the two concrete pours, you dig out, you glue them together, there’s always some sagging in the concrete. There’s always at least a 16th of an inch difference between this foundation and that foundation.
And just the act of knocking down walls and drilling through the concrete, that agitates things. So you open up more areas. You open up more cracks. You disturb what was a house that maybe had settled for 20, 30, even more years, where everything was where it was going to be, unless it was disturbed.
When I go to a house with termites, I do look at the addition and those weak points. But if I go to a house, and it’s a call for rodents, especially mice, I’m looking around the neighborhood. I’m kind of judging things as I’m going. Is there a lot of trash on the street? What’s the age of these houses? What are the conditions for these houses? And I pull up to the house. If I see that there’s been an addition or a finished-off breezeway with a new garage attached, I know where I’m going to start to look for those holes, because even with the best construction, they’re not thinking like the insects or the rodents do. Even the best contractors are going to leave just enough for those animals to get inside the house.
John: Yeah. That’s interesting. Any final thoughts on pest control in Nashua, New Hampshire?
Zack: Nashua’s great, up and coming. I like to go downtown and grab a little bite to eat on my way home. It never hurts.
John: All right. That’s great information, Zack. Thanks again for speaking with me today.
Zack: Thank you, John.
John Maher: And for more information, you can visit the Colonial Pest Control website at colonialpest.com or call 1-800-525-8084. That’s 1-800-525-8084.